Sanctioned mixed martial arts fights are one short step from becoming legal in Massachusetts after a bill on the sport sailed through the state's House of Representatives in a 144-10 vote Wednesday afternoon.

The state senate passed the bill 34-1 in July, leaving a signature from Gov. Deval Patrick as the only roadblock from passing it in to law. That is expected to be a formality.

The UFC has all but promised to bring an event to the Bay State -- specifically Boston -- shortly after sanctioning; UFC president Dana White lived in the city for much of his youth and has spoken enthusiastically about staging an event there, even mentioning the possibility of using the fabled Fenway Park as a venue.

Massachusetts boasts a thriving MMA scene and is home to fighters including Kenny Florian, Gabriel Gonzaga and the Lauzon brothers, Joe and Dan. Several promotions run events in the state, but have not been subject to any athletic commission regulation since 2005.

Interestingly, Massachusetts briefly sanctioned MMA in the early 2000s until a reintrepration of laws surrounding combat sports caused the state boxing commission to stop.

According to one local newspaper, the Massachusetts legislation differs from other states due to an amendment that gives cities and towns the authority to vote on whether to allow mixed martial arts events.

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